ESTERO- The defending Kelly Cup Champion Florida Everblades are looking to eliminate the Newfoundland Growlers for the second straight season, and they got off to a good start with a 6-2 victory in game one on Friday Night. Florida would open up the scoring early as Blake Winiecki would tip in a shot from John McCarron to open up the scoring at the 3:29 mark of the opening frame. Florida would have a flurry of chances to extend their lead in the first, including a four-minute PP, but the man advantage was an issue for them tonight. However, Tyler Irvine and Winiecki would get a two-on-one in the final minute of the frame as Winicecki fed Irvine for his eighth of the Kelly Cup Playoffs to give the Blades a 2-0 lead heading into the locker room. As expected, Newfoundland wasn’t done, and it would be Orrin Centazzo who scored from the circle and a Keenan Suthers chance in alone 3:13 apart from each other that would tie up the game.
Florida has had trouble getting scoring from their blueline during the Kelly Cup Playoffs. Still, tonight it would be defenceman Ben Masella’s shot from the point and his first of the Kelly Cup Playoffs, which would end up being the game-winner, “Ya, it was a nice play by Chousy (Oliver Chau). He won a couple of battles and then Winny (Blake Winiecki) set me up, and John (John McCarron) had a nice screen in front, and it was a nice play all around” said Masella when asked about his game-winning goal. The Blades would pad their lead before the end of the second as Winiecki had a nice tip in front, and Will Caverly got another two-on-one but kept it to himself this time and potted his first of the Kelly Cup Playoffs, those goals coming 45 seconds apart. Luke Lambdin would add an empty netter to secure a 6-2 win for the Blades. “It’s absolutely huge for any team to be up in the series is massive, but you still have three more games to win,” said Winiecki when asked about the game one win.” Cam Johnson made 17 saves in the victory as the Everblades held the Blades to only 19 shots on net, “Discipline is critical for us; you saw their PP goal was a pretty high-end play, and from there, it’s important we have great routes and are able to slow them down one way or another,” said Head Coach Brad Ralph. Despite the 6-2 win, one concern for Florida has to be the PP which went 0-6 tonight, including a five on three for 53 seconds, “We’re gonna have to look at video and make some adjustments, no doubt, towards the end of the game, you’re kind of holding on not attacking too much” said Head Coach Brad Ralph.
“Discipline is critical for us, you saw their PP goal was a pretty high-end play, and from there, it’s important we have great routes and are able to slow them down one way or another,” said Head Coach Brad Ralph. Game 2 is Saturday at 7 pm in Estero. Florida came into the series at 23.3% on the man advantage during the Kelly Cup Playoffs.